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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

The 2020 Census could see the worst undercount of black and Latinx people in 30 years, according to a new study from the Urban Institute.

The big picture: The 2020 Census is already facing "unprecedented challenges and threats to its accuracy" as a result of demographic changes, underfunding, and complex and undertested process changes. That's not to mention the Trump administration's addition of a citizenship question, which will likely have a chilling effect on responses regardless of whether or not it's upheld by the Supreme Court this month.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has defended the citizenship question as necessary to enhance the 1965 Voting Rights Act, despite the Census Bureau's own analysis that it could scare households with non-citizens into low response rates.

  • A 2015 study conducted by a now-deceased GOP gerrymandering strategist concluded that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census would "clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats" and "advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites," according to court documents filed in a legal challenge.
  • That strategist went on to help write a draft Justice Department letter that argued the question was essential to enforce the Voting Rights Act, the same defense that Ross and the Trump administration have used.

Worst-case undercount/overcount projections, per the Urban Institute:

  • Black residents: -1.7 million people
  • Hispanic/Latinx people: - 2.2 million people.
  • Asians and Pacific Islanders: -305,200 people.
  • American Indians and Alaska Natives: -102,600 people.
  • White people: +67,000 people.

Based on previous analysis by the Census Bureau, a number of groups have historically been underrepresented, a problem that is likely to be exacerbated by the increase of diversity and youth in the U.S. since 2010.

  • Those groups include young African American males and children. Children ages 0–4 could be miscounted by as many as 1.4 million people.
  • Those who rent rather than own homes, which tend to be people of color, are also at risk of being undercounted. People with multiple homes tend to be overcounted.

What they're saying:

  • Robert Santos, the Urban Institute's vice president and chief methodologist: "Based on the factors we looked at, things do not look good. There’s still time to change that by doubling down on civic engagement."
  • Census spokesperson Michael Cook: "We are laser focused on utilizing these national and community partners to help educate the public about the 2020 Census. Our operations and our communications campaign are oriented to reach hard-to-count populations and encourage them to respond to the Census."

The bottom line: Political representation and federal funding are at risk of unfair distribution if the Census is inaccurate. The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on the citizenship question in late June.

Go deeper: GOP strategist concluded citizenship question would disadvantage Democrats

Go deeper

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state supreme court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.

2 hours ago - World

At least 2 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least two people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Monday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Axios over the phone that two people had been confirmed to have died in the disaster.

Airlines call for Biden admin's "immediate intervention" in 5G deployment

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The CEOs of leading U.S. air cargo and passenger carriers on Monday warned the Biden administration there could be "catastrophic disruption" after AT&T and Verizon deploy a new 5G service this week.

Driving the news: They said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other top federal officials ahead of the C-Band 5G service's deployment Wednesday that "the nation's commerce will grind to a halt" and "could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas."